What Are the Symptoms of a Tomato Allergy? (with pictures)

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Yellow tomatoes.
Yellow tomatoes.

Though it is relatively rare, some people are allergic to tomatoes and can experience a number of unpleasant symptoms when they eat them, particularly if they are raw. Symptoms usually arise initially in and around the mouth, with the lips, tongue, and throat first becoming itchy and then often swelling. Some people may also develop hives or an itchy rash on other areas of the skin. Gastrointestinal symptoms are also common, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A more severe, systemic reaction can cause difficulty breathing, fainting, and even anaphylactic shock or death.

A caprese salad, which includes tomatoes.
A caprese salad, which includes tomatoes.

The first place that symptoms of a tomato allergy often show up is the area first exposed: the mouth. Often the allergic person will start feeling itchy on and around his or her lips, on the tongue, and even in the throat shortly after eating. This is frequently followed by swelling in the same areas. Swelling in the throat can be particularly problematic, as it may make breathing difficult.

A tomato allergy can also cause a reaction on skin elsewhere on the body. Some people develop itchy hives that can arise on some or all of their skin. They may also get a rash, which can be persistent if they do not take tomatoes out of their diet.

Hives can appear as an allergic reaction.
Hives can appear as an allergic reaction.

During an allergy attack, the body may try to rid itself of the allergen with a gastrointestinal reaction. The allergic person may feel nauseous and start to vomit to get the tomato out. He or she may also have diarrhea as part of the body's response.

In some cases, an allergy to tomatoes can be severe and lead to serious symptoms. It is also quite common for the allergic reaction to start out fairly mild and get progressively worse with each subsequent episode. Those who do have a severe tomato allergy may wheeze and have difficulty catching their breath. This can lead to a loss of blood pressure, which can make the person dizzy and faint. If he or she does not get medical attention quickly, the reaction may eventually result in anaphylactic shock, heart or respiratory failure, and even death.

Allergies may manifest as skin rashes.
Allergies may manifest as skin rashes.

People with tomato allergies may also want to use caution when ingesting plants from the same family. Two closely related foods that commonly cause symptoms in those with a tomato allergy are potatoes and eggplant. Tobacco is also closely related to the tomato, so smoking can also sometimes lead to an allergic reaction.

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Discussion Comments

anon1005064

You can be either allergic (a tiny amount causes a disproportionate immune system response) or intolerant (the reaction is directly proportional to the amount eaten) to tomatoes. Apparently, there are two substances in tomatoes that can cause these reactions. One is a group of proteins called profilins, which are also found in grass pollen. If you are exposed to grass pollen a lot, the related profilins in tomatoes can also trigger an allergic reaction. Profilins can be broken down by cooking tomatoes. BUT--and I learned this through several years of trial and error--tomatoes also contain a lot of something else that can trigger hives, sore throat, etc.

What do tomato, pineapple, avocado, Chinese food, Chik-Fil-A sandwiches, lots of canned soups, many, many brands of sausages, and parmesan cheese have in common? Glutamate, glutamic acid, nad monosodium glutamate. And tomato paste and tomato sauce, as well as pineapple juice, contain even higher concentrations. And lots of foods contain monosodium glutamate, either naturally, or added. That only took 6 years of trial and error to nail down.

But if you have reactions to tomatoes, then you probably have reactions to any glutamates, and that won't show up on an allergy test. Because an intolerance depends on the amount of exposure, whereas an allergy will react to even a tiny amount. And the amount of MSG in a can of Campbell's Vegetable Beef Soup probably isn't enough on its own to trigger a noticeable reaction. But, if I have, say, Chinese food for lunch, then spaghetti and meatballs with grated parmesan and a pina colada for supper, that's a noticeable reaction. Took 6 years to figure this out. But I'm "cured."

ysmina

@jackson-- I agree with you, this is more common than people realize. I'm allergic too. When I touch tomato juice, I get a rash on my skin. I don't eat them at all.

literally45

@alisha-- I'm allergic only to raw tomatoes. If I have any, my lips and face swells up and I get itching inside my mouth. It's very bad.

I don't have an allergy to cooked tomatoes though. I can have cooked pasta sauce for example without problems. I think most people are allergic to the acids/enzymes in fresh tomatoes. When it's cooked, the enzymes become ineffective.

You might want to try cooked tomatoes to see if you're allergic. But have only a little bit and watch out for dangerous allergy signs like throat swelling and difficulty breathing. You have to go to the emergency room if that happens.

discographer

I think I have a tomato allergy. I've been getting gastrointestinal problems after eating raw tomatoes in salads. I get stomach cramps, flatulence and diarrhea.

It's weird because I've been eating tomatoes my whole life without problems and I'm sure that it's the tomatoes triggering these symptoms. I don't know if I'm allergic to cooked tomatoes but I'm a little scared to try right now.

Does anyone else here have a tomato allergy? Are you allergic to all tomatoes or just raw ones?

jackson26

Tomato allergy is quite common. Many people have the problem of tomato allergy. The most common symptoms are skin reactions such as itching, redness of the skin and vomiting.

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    • Yellow tomatoes.
      Yellow tomatoes.
    • A caprese salad, which includes tomatoes.
      A caprese salad, which includes tomatoes.
    • Hives can appear as an allergic reaction.
      Hives can appear as an allergic reaction.
    • Allergies may manifest as skin rashes.
      Allergies may manifest as skin rashes.
    • Itching of the face, mouth, neck and throat are common symptoms of a tomato allergy.
      Itching of the face, mouth, neck and throat are common symptoms of a tomato allergy.
    • Vomiting may occur after consuming a tomato if a person has a tomato allergy.
      Vomiting may occur after consuming a tomato if a person has a tomato allergy.
    • Swelling in the throat is a common symptom of a food allergy.
      Swelling in the throat is a common symptom of a food allergy.